A History lecturer has become the historical adviser for Keanu Reeves’ new samuari film.
Dr Stephen Turnbull is a leading academic in Japanese culture and well-known for his work on Japanese religion and military history. D
r Turnbull will be making sure that the film, ‘47 Ronin’, is as historically and culturally accurate as possible. Dr Turnbull said that due to script re-writes he “[hasn’t] got the faintest idea what will be on screen”.
However, he added he is “very proud of the project”. “I really think it will make the Japanese film industry intensely jealous and furious because they didn’t think of it first!” On his website, the lecturer writes that he is “sworn to secrecy” about the details but promises the audience that they are “in for a treat”.
The movie, which is due for release next year, tells the story of a group of samurai who are sentenced to commit ritual suicide after they avenge the death of their master. The Universal Pictures film is based on events which happened in 1703, which have since become an important part of Japanese folklore.
Dr Turnbull has also been involved in the design of the costumes, temples and shrines to ensure that the film is as authentic as possible. Although the film has some fantasy elements, these are “firmly rooted in Japanese mythology” and follow a “long tradition of embellishing the story of the 47 Ronin”, according to Turnbull.
The lecturer has written numerous books on Japanese culture, including a number on samurai culture. His latest, ‘The Samurai and the Sacred’, also provides the title for the module he teaches at the University.
Words: Beckie Smith